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A business consultant takes the role of working with clients on numerous aspects of strategy, problem-solving, and planning. It is the duty of the business consultant to offer guidance and information which can be used by upper management or executives to master their business skills in whatever industry they are in.
The first step to actually asking a consulting question would be to take the time to listen. Yes, it might seem a little bit strange that listening is the first step to asking a consulting question but it is. Taking the time to listen attentively to what your client says is the jump point for making any consulting project a success. It can also help establish rapport and build a relationship which is quite key in this line of work. If you are unable to listen to what the clients want and how they feel about their current situation and business, you will be unable to understand the most appropriate solution for them.
The next step would be to ask the right questions. Asking the right questions will enable you to truly offer your clients the highest value level, which would help build your credibility and establish you as an authority figure.
“What is your number one priority for this business unit during this fiscal year?”
“Who will be making the final decisions on this project and who will be in charge of implementation?”
“What is unique about your business compared to your competitors?”
“Is there anything that you or your employees are doing that may be getting in the way of achieving this result?”
“What do you believe needs to be strengthened in order to support achieving this?”
“What was the main reason that you wanted to meet with me?”
“Many companies in this market are currently facing the issue of X, are you also finding that a challenge, or is there a bigger more pressing issue on your mind?”
“Can you tell me what your ideal client looks like? How old are they? Where do they live? What magazines or newspapers (or websites) do they read? What is their income level? What is their most pressing problem or desired result?”
“What options have you looked at to achieve this…?”
“What is the value of a new client to you?”.
You should be looking out for a degree in business or any related field. This degree should typically be a master’s degree. Additionally, certification is vitally important like the voluntary certification available via the Institute of Management Consultants. A credible business consultant that fits your hiring profile is one that has at least two years of experience. While there is nothing wrong with hiring a business consultant with less experience, it is much better to get an experienced hand on deck as your business will profit from the experience. Your business consultant is one that has key skills such as interpersonal, great communication, critical and analytical thinking skills, organisational skills, strong time management abilities, and more.
Business consultants could choose to front-load their billing. This means that if an invoice is only sent after reaching certain milestones, the fee is usually loaded at the front of the project rather than the end. For instance, a form of advance payment is required to begin the project, or that the first couple of payments are higher than those due much later in the project. doing this ensures that the project has a financial head start. It also helps to minimise risk should a client not pay on time over the course of a project.
The clients can also be billed often, given that the more a business consultant gets paid, the better their cash flow. And while monthly payments are the standard for business consultants that bill expenses and hours, the bills can come more often.
Business consultants can also choose to invoice immediately either once a milestone has been reached or the billing cycle has been reached. The sooner an invoice is sent to clients, the sooner the clients pay their bills.
Business consulting pricing and fees are typically structured in a couple of ways. However, like most businesses that offer a service, there is a bit of a challenge when it comes to pricing their offers. Pricing products is actually a lot easier than pricing for services due to the fact that the production costs of the products can be easily traced. However, services are more subjective when it comes to determining the value of one’s services.
This is one of the many reasons why varying business consultants have different techniques to make sure their services are priced appropriately. That being said, consultants take into account every important factor to ensure they do not undercharge or overcharge as the risk of losing clients overpricing can be an ever-constant possibility.
The base fee is usually $100 per hour which is then factored in depending on the mode of billing a business consultant utilises.
You have to ask your business consultant the following questions:
If they are collaborative
If they have knowledge of your chosen industry
If they can tell you more about their process involving their work
What is their biggest challenge within their knowledge sphere was the previous year
If they can guarantee success
What their payment structure is
What would occur if the contract was terminated
Why they should be hired over other consultants
If they are willing to sign a confidentiality agreement
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